The Latour legacy

Toubia family thriving in food scene it helped create

Written by Joe Stumpe

Forty years after opening their iconic Olive Tree restaurant, members of the Toubia family are as passionate as ever about creating memorable dining experiences for Wichitans.

“Every concept in Latour is legitimately chef-owned,” says Joumana Toubia, who runs several aspects of Latour with her sister, Randa. “It’s all about the food.”

The pieces — restaurant, catering, bakery and café — complement each other, with everyone pulling together and making everything from scratch.

The Toubia sisters’ brother, Naji, and his wife, Claire, operate one cornerstone of the company: Bagatelle Bakery on Harry, where they produce all the baked goods served by the various Latour venues, in addition to serving breakfast and lunch and supplying many a host with stunning desserts for dinner parties and special events.

Joumana and Randa run the Olive Tree at Rock and 29th, which now functions as a banquet hall and the catering arm of Latour, in addition to providing exclusive catering to the Hotel at Old Town and the Wichita Art Museum.

Their older brother, Lebanon native Antoine Toubia, upended the city’s dining scene when he arrived here in 1974, starting as a chef at Crestview County Club before opening the Olive Tree, Piccadilly Market and a dozen other food operations with the help of his siblings. By the time of his death in 1996, Toubia had launched the careers of numerous other restaurant owners and chefs, vastly expanding Wichita’s food options and creating competition for Latour along the way.

Latour’s interconnected parts put it in a good position to satisfy some of the biggest trends in dining today. “People want to know where their food came from and that it’s made from scratch,” Randa Toubia said, adding that Latour uses the freshest ingredients possible from responsible purveyors.

Next door to the Olive Tree is Two Olives, a bistro that’s a culmination of the sisters’ heritage and experience. Randa and Joumana are the “two olives” of the restaurant’s name.

“Two Olives really provides people a taste of the Mediterranean lifestyle, from our experience growing up in a country that was kind of a melting pot of Mediterranean cultures,” Randa said. “Food is the epicenter of this lifestyle. Meals are an opportunity to gather around the table and find peace and happiness.”

By day, Two Olives serves as a quick lunch spot with its $10, 10-minute-or-less meals. “It’s a quick, guilt-free break to recharge the mind and body,” Joumana said.

At night, the tablecloths come out and — though the environment is anything but stuffy — the food takes an elevated turn. In addition to exquisite entrees from across the globe, Joumana and Randa create an ever-changing menu of special mezze, small plates and platters meant to be shared over a glass of wine or an artisan cocktail. “The custom is to offer a large selection of small quantities and keep them coming with drinks. It’s social dining signifying leisure, camaraderie and good humor,” Randa said.

The Two Olives/Olive Tree Sunday brunch offers another example of tasty collaboration, with fabulous desserts prepared at Bagatelle topping off the work of chefs at Two Olives and Olive Tree.

“It’s beautiful how it all comes together,” Joumana said. “It’s all for one and one for all.”

Two Olives/Olive Tree
2949 N. Rock Road
316.636.1100

Bagatelle Café
6801 E. Harry
316.684.5662

 
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